Sunday, May 30, 2021

Springtime Beauty

May has been a beautiful month where I live. My family and I have been enjoying the return of each springtime flower and feathered friends. It is always such an amazing blessing to see spring unfold after a long cold winter.


 My daughter and I find great delight in awaiting the arrival of our favorite flowers. I cherish all of the sweet little bouquets my daughter collects for our kitchen table.


 Star of Bethlehem is one of if not my favorite springtime flower. It is a wildflower that began blooming on our property a couple of years after we moved into our home. It tends to be a short lived flower, so we anxiously await its blossoming and soak up its beauty while we can. Each time I see the Star of Bethlehem flower I can't help but think of the sweet Christmas song by that name. : )

Our crab apple tree was especially beautiful this year! I always love the vibrant pink blossoms.
I was so impressed with the amount of blossoms on the tree this year.

We always eagerly anticipate the arrival of the Baltimore Orioles. Adam made little platforms for grape jelly, the orioles enjoy perching on the platforms while they eat the jelly. It is surprising just how much grape jelly they can eat in a week! If you look closely you will spot a male Baltimore oriole, a female and a very mischievous squirrel. 

We have a family of squirrels in the large old maple tree outside our living room window. We have enjoyed watching their unbelievable antics! They make us laugh so often with how cute and crazy they behave, especially the juvenile squirrels.
Adam took these pictures of the orioles early one morning. They can be fairly difficult to photograph. 

We have also been grateful to once again see the Rose Breasted Grosbeak, Eastern Bluebirds, hummingbirds and so many others! Many times when we visit my mom we are treated with a visit from the Pileated woodpecker, what an amazing creature!

We have planted our vegetable garden and are excited to once again watch the plants grow. Our first harvest this year was asparagus, which was an unexpected blessing. Adam had planted some asparagus roots in the garden last spring. We had read that it could take up to five years before the plants would produce anything edible. However, much to our delight we had enough asparagus to enjoy one evening with our dinner.

Adam started most of our plants from seed this year using heirloom seeds. Last year we had purchased tomato plants from a local greenhouse, at the time we hadn't realized they were heirloom tomatoes. They were the most delicious tomatoes we had ever tasted. The tomato variety was Boxcar Willy, it was the variety's name that caught our attention. Adam was able to save seeds from last years tomatoes and start his own Boxcar Willy tomato plants this year. We are excited to enjoy them once again this year.

Hopefully I will post again soon. It seems like there tends to be more to share during the spring, summer and fall. I hope to share some of my recent sewing projects soon.

Have you planted a garden this year? Are you enjoying any special feathered friends?


"O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches." Psalm 104:24

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Faith's Checkbook

 Over the years one of my favorite daily devotional books has been Faith's Checkbook by Charles Spurgeon. When I was growing up my mom would often read aloud from her own worn copy of Faith's Checkbook to my sisters and I. When I married mom gave me a copy of my own, and it has continued to encourage me with God's promises throughout the years.

Faith's Checkbook is a collection of 366 promises from God's Word, one for each day of the year, including leap years. In each reading Charles Spurgeon will expound upon the promise for that day in a brief devotion. I have been blessed time and again to be reminded of God's precious promises though this devotional. 

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Below is the reading for December 28th:

Absolute Assurance 
"He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee"   (Hebrews 13:5).

Several times in the Scriptures the LORD hath said this. He has often repeated it to make our assurance doubly sure. Let us never harbor a doubt about it. In itself the promise is specially emphatic. In the Greek it has five negatives, each one definitely shutting out the possibility of the LORD's ever leaving one of His people so that he can justly feel forsaken of his God. This priceless Scripture does not promise us exemption from trouble, but it does secure us against desertion. We may be called to traverse strange ways, but we shall always have our LORD's company, assistance, and provision. We need not covet money, for we shall always have our God, and God is better than gold; His favor is better than fortune. 

 

We ought surely to be content with such things as we have, for he who has God has more than all the world besides. What can we have beyond the Infinite? What more can we desire than almighty Goodness. 

 

Come, my heart; if God says He will never leave thee nor forsake thee, be thou much in prayer for grace that thou mayest never leave thy LORD, nor even for a moment forsake His ways. 

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As the new year approaches it is good to remember God's goodness and His promises through His Word. If you are considering a new daily devotional for 2021 I would highly recommend Faith's Checkbook


"As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him."

Psalm 18:30

Monday, December 21, 2020

Christmas Books by Grace Livingston Hill Part 2

Back in 2017 I shared some of my favorite Grace Livingston Hill Christmas stories. Since then I have discovered a few other Christmas books by Mrs. Hill  that I thoroughly enjoyed. I hope you will too!

The Prodigal Girl was quite the story! It follows the Thorton family during a rather tumultuous Christmas season. Mr. Thorton has spent his years climbing the corporate ladder and spending little time with his family. One day, just after reaching his highest professional achievement, he over hears a rather surprising conversation regarding his eldest daughter. He is stunned, and upon further investigation realizes that while he was pursuing his dream career his family had been terribly neglected. Mr. Thorton makes the decision to remove his family from the city and relocate to his childhood home in rural Vermont. 

As can be imagined his worldly wise offspring are less than thrilled with this arrangement. Mr. Thorton meets with a great deal of opposition from his family, especially from his oldest daughter. As the story unfolds we see the Lord's redemptive plan for the Thorton family and it is beautiful! I loved the description of the old homestead in Vermont, and I especially enjoyed reading of the old-fashioned preparations for Christmas. The Prodigal Girl was a book that I found hard to put down and one that I would highly recommend.

Astra is a sweet story. In the first pages a wintry storm, as seen from a train, is described so beautifully I felt as though I were there! I could imagine seeing the little towns covered in snow, Christmas lights gleaming. The main character, Astra, is a lonely young woman. She had lived with her cousins family since the passing of her parents. Her values don't always align with those of her worldly cousin, so when her cousin and family take a trip out of state Astra sees her means of escape. Life on her own is difficult, she isn't sure were to turn when all of the old friends she had counted on are out of town for Christmas. Astra finds a friend and help in a most unexpected way. A beautiful story of Christmas romance unfolds in a wholesome and engaging fashion. Astra is a book I will definitely read again. It was cozy, sweet and pointed to Jesus, which is my favorite kind of Christmas story.

Partners is the story of Dale, a young woman out of a job and alone in an unfriendly city. Trouble seems to meet her at every turn. Utterly despondent and without hope she calls upon God for guidance and help. She is amazed at the answer to her prayer, and the unusual responsibilities that come her way. 

On a stormy evening, a young man that resides at the boarding house where Dale lives discovers a baby left in the vestibule of the boarding house. The poor little baby is covered with snow, blue with cold and terribly sick. Unable to find help in the ladies running the boarding house he seeks help from Dale. From that point forwards they become "partners" in seeking to save the precious little life of the baby he had found. Partners is a lovely story. I was blessed with the story's ultimate theme of God's goodness and guidance in the lives of the characters.

Brentwood: Upon the passing of her adoptive mother, Marjorie discovers a letter describing her history. Much to Marjorie's surprise she discovers that her birth mother is still alive. With Christmas soon approaching Marjorie decides to seek out her birth mother, so she will not have to spend Christmas alone. Marjorie is met with  quite a surprise when she finally finds her mother. Not only does Marjorie have a mother, but she has a father, an identical twin sister and three younger siblings! Her parents are both terribly ill and the entire family is living in poverty. Thankfully, Marjorie's adoptive parents had left her with a small fortune, so when Marjorie discovers the situation her family is in, she is able to help them and bless them with a truly wonderful Christmas! 
 
Brentwood is a story of family, and how a loving family is of more value than any amount of money. It was fun to read the accounts of Marjorie's generosity, and how she was able to forge a true friendship with her stand-offish twin sister. I truly enjoyed this unique Christmas story.
 
As you well know Grace Livingston Hill is my favorite author, and I am so happy that she wrote such a wonderful variety of Christmas books! If you would like to read my previous Grace Livingston Hill Christmas book post here is a link


 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Christmas Cookies

 
Today I would like to share with you some new cookie recipes my daughter and I have recently enjoyed baking. This year I decided to try some new cookie recipes, as I tend to make the same cookies every Christmas season. All three new recipes were well received and have been added to my cookbook for future reference.

This summer one of our favorite read aloud books was Pippi Longstocking. In the story Pippi is forever baking and eating pepparkakor cookies. Jemimah was shocked by many of Pippi's antics, including when Pippi rolled out her cookie dough on the kitchen floor. After baking a batch of pepparkakor cookies we could easily see why Pippi would bake such large batches of these cookies, they don't last long. Pepparkakor cookies are delicious and have a wonderfully spicy flavor.

 
Pepparkakor Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened 
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (I used all brown, but I think the recipe recommend white)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water 
 Directions: Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Cream butter and sugar in a separate bowl. Add egg, maple syrup, and water to butter and sugar mixture. Beat until fluffy. Gradually add dry ingredients. Mix until well combined. Cover bowl and chill dough for at least an hour to make the dough easier to handle and roll out. Once chilled, roll dough until about 1/8" thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out dough into shapes. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned on the bottom.

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Jemimah discovered this recipe in her Club House Jr. Magazine. They were a lot of fun to make and the finished cookies were scrumptious! The design and flavor are perfect for Christmas. I know that from now on candy cane cookies will be part of my Christmas cookie rotation each year.

 
Candy Cane Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • red food coloring

Directions: Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, peppermint, vanilla, salt and baking powder. Gradually add flour, mix well. Set aside half of the dough. Add red food coloring to one half of dough. Chill dough for at least one hour, so that dough is easier to work with. Once chilled pinch off a piece of dough, about 2 tablespoons, from each color. Roll each dough into a rope that measure about 5" long. Twist both ropes together and  then curve top to create a cane shaped cookie. Bake in a 375 degree oven 9-12 minutes.

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During the Christmas season I often think of my grandma and all of her wonderful baking. Each Christmas she would give our family a shirt box filled with an assortment of homemade cookies. My sisters and I were always excited to see what grandma had baked that year. One of my favorite cookies were grandma's mincemeat cookies. They tasted so old-fashioned and festive. Unfortunately grandma never shared the recipe and after her passing we were unable to find the recipe in her cookbooks. However, awhile back I read a recipe for mincemeat cookies shared by Jennifer that sounded similar. I finally tried baking her recipe and it tasted just like the cookies I remembered grandma baking! They are truly a special treat. I encourage you to visit Jennifer's blog and try baking her recipe for mincemeat cookies.

I hope you will enjoy trying the cookie recipes I shared today. Have you tried any new cookie recipes this season? If yes, do you have a new favorite to recommend?

P.S. A few years back I shared some favorite Christmas cookie recipes. If you are interested in seeing the post here is a link.
 
"O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens." Psalm 8:1

Monday, November 2, 2020

Apple Pie and October Memories

October was truly a lovely month. I don't remember an autumn with prettier foliage. The picture above was taken while driving down my grandpa's driveway. Grandpa lives down a fairly long driveway, tucked back amid the woods. The entire driveway was lined with golden foliage, this picture doesn't do justice to just how beautiful the golden leaves looked in person.

We were able to take a couple of day trips in the month of October. Our favorite was our visit to Letchworth State Park. The trees were just beginning to change color, the weather was pleasantly cool, and it was such a treat to see so many amazing views of God's marvelous creation!

 Letchworth is often referred to the "Grand Canyon of the East". While there we saw the actual home of Mary Jemison, a rustic log cabin. She is buried at Letchworth and they have a monument honoring her, as well as a historical display of her life.

The three waterfalls were truly splendid! Our little girl was absolutely delighted by the waterfalls, as she had never seen a waterfall that large or impressive before.

Not far from Letchworth is Mount Morris, the town where Lamplighter Publishing is located. We were pleased to have the chance to visit Lamplighter and tour their book bindery and recording studio. It was a treat to see how they create the beautiful books in their collection. We were deeply impressed at all the hands-on work that goes into creating each volume.

When the days grow cooler I look forward to baking my favorite Autumnal recipes. Nothing say "fall" like apple pie. I thought I would share my favorite recipe. It is the recipe my mom always made when I was growing up. It is simple, but delicious.

Apple Pie

6-7 cups apples, peeled and sliced

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

4 tablespoons melted butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients. Pour into pie shell. Top with crust or crumb topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. 

Crumb Topping:

1/2 cup flour

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup butter

Blend well. Sprinkle over pie evenly.


We didn't have our first frost until nearly the end of October. It gave us ample time to enjoy the flowers in Jemimah's wild flower patch. She was bringing in little bouquets nearly every day. The wild flowers brought us all much joy this summer.

The zinnias were my favorite in the mix. I loved the combination of vibrant and soft colors.

I had to snap a few pictures knowing that these would be some of the last fresh flowers we would enjoy until spring.

A sample of how the daily mini bouquets had a tendency to take over the kitchen table.

I hope you have all enjoyed a beautiful October as we have. May you have a blessed week!

"O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth." Isaiah 25:1



Friday, August 28, 2020

August


This bouquet of flowers came from our wildflower garden.

August has been a busy month of gardening, canning, home improvements and beginning our homeschool year. It feels as though we have accomplished a great over the past few weeks.

We have been so pleased, blessed and grateful with the success of our garden this year. Adam tripled the size of our patch dedicated to growing corn, and it was wonderful to enjoy homegrown sweet corn so often this summer. We even had enough corn that I was able to freeze several quarts for the winter ahead.

Adam has compiled a collection of  garden pictures that we hope to share in a post here soon. As you can see from the picture above Adam grew almost everything this year! The cantaloupe has been a favorite. The flavor is so sweet and special during the last of these hot summer days.

As I type this I have over a dozen jars of spaghetti sauce and a dozen jars of pepper jelly resting on my kitchen counter - all made with produce from the garden. It is such a joy to know that come winter we will still have a taste of this beautiful summer to enjoy!


Earlier this week I made plum jam. It remains a family favorite. I am always delighted when I am able to find locally grown plums. They are so delicious and they make the perfect jam!

In the evenings I enjoy sitting back with a good book or some handiwork. Currently I am reading Duskin by Grace Livingston Hill. Reading a Grace Livingston Hill book is like meeting with an old friend, some of the situations are similar book to book, but enough is different to be entertaining. The theme of God speaking through His Word is woven throughout Duskin in such a natural and beautiful way. The main character has promised her mother that she will  read her Bible daily while away from home on a business trip. At first she is annoyed by her mother's request, but as the story progresses she realizes that God is using the book of Proverbs to guide and direct her course.

The evenings have been cooler of late and I have been finding some time to knit again. This summer was quite hot, so my knitting sat tucked away until now. The blue yarn is being knit into a cardigan for my daughter. The natural yarn is a scarf.

Earlier this month I canned several quarts of peaches. While I had fresh peaches on hand I made peaches and cream kuchen, a recipe that my grandma shared with me years ago. It is one of Adam's favorites, so much so that I made it twice in one weekend.

Peaches and Cream Kuchen

Crust:

2 cups flour

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 butter

Combine flour, sugar, salt  and baking powder. With pastry blender cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Turn mixture into lightly greased 8"x8" pan. Pat firmly against bottom and sides of pan.

3 cups of sliced peaches (fresh, frozen or canned may be used)

 3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

Arrange peaches over crust. Combine sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over peaches. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Beat 1 cup heavy cream and 2 egg yolks together. Pour over peaches. Bake an additional 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to stand 10 minutes, serves warm. Yum!

My mom, daughter and I visited a lovely greenhouse/farm market one day this month. Jemimah was excited to discover this stunning display of pink petunias. We had to snap a few pictures of her among the flowers.



"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." Ephesians 3:20

Friday, July 31, 2020

Sour Cream Berry Pie Recipe

During the summer months I love to enjoy the fresh fruits of the season through pies. Recently I had used some black raspberries for jam and didn't have quite enough left over to make a pie with, but still wanted to incorporate them into my baking. Then I remembered reading a recipe for a sour cream berry pie in the Mennonite Community Cookbook. It seemed a somewhat unusual recipe and at first I was hesitant to give it a try. My curiosity got the better of me! Sour cream berry pie is a recipe I will keep on hand to bake often since it doesn't require as much fruit as a classic fruit pie. The texture is delicious and I found that the berries were still the main flavor of the pie.

Sour Cream Berry Pie:
2 1/2 cups elderberries or blackberries*
1 cup sugar**
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sour cream
Pastry for 1 (9 inch) crust

Wash berries and place in an unbaked crust.
Combine sugar and flour.
Add sour cream and blend thoroughly.
Pour mixture over fruit.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 30 minutes.

*I used 3 heaping cups of black raspberries.
**I used 3/4 cup of sugar. My berries were quite sweet and I felt an entire cup would be too much.
I look forward to baking this pie recipe again using different berries. I think red raspberries would be wonderful. Come September I hope to make the elderberry variation too!

 This recipe can be found in the Mennonite Community Cookbook. I purchased the 65th Anniversary Edition a couple of years ago. It is a lovely cookbook. Some of the recipes are a bit more old-fashioned than what I would typically cook, but there are still many that are timeless and delicious!

What new recipes are you enjoying this summer?